Hunger Myths and Realities
Hunger is a more serious problem in our community than many people realize. With nearly 20% of New York State families living in or near poverty, it is easy to understand how so many people are just one step away from hunger. Single-parent families, elderly people living on fixed incomes, low-wage workers, and disabled members of our community all need assistance to assure they will not go hungry.
Over one third of the households that need help with food have at least one family member who is working. It is often difficult for people in lower-wage jobs to provide for all of their family’s needs. Food is one of the few flexible items in a family’s budget, and very often people do without food to pay other bills.
Myth: People are poor because they are too lazy to work.
Reality: Clients seeking emergency food assistance from the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley and its agencies are typically part of hard working families living below the federal poverty line.
Myth: People at food pantries need help because they have too many kids.
Reality: Most families seeking assistance consist of 2-3 people, usually a mom and one or two children.
The mean household size is 2.2 individuals; only 3% of households have more than six members.
52% of client households are single-person households (Source: Hunger in America 2006).
Myth: All poor people get food stamps, and they use them to buy expensive food that I can’t even afford.
Reality: In the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley’s service area, fewer than half the families that are eligible for food stamps actually receive them. Food stamp benefits typically last only 2 weeks. Studies show that families on food stamps are careful shoppers and purchase more nutritious food than non-food stamp households.
Myth: There are plenty of people working on this issue. My help isn’t needed.
Reality: Many of the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley’s member agencies depend on volunteers and are seeing more and more people in need of food assistance.
More than 58% of food pantries and 43% of soup kitchens rely entirely on volunteers and have no paid staff.
Two-thirds of emergency feeding programs (67%) indicate they serve more clients now than they did in 2001.
Myth: I’ll never need to go to a food pantry or a soup kitchen for food.
Reality: No one plans to be poor. Many people live from paycheck to paycheck and are thrust into poverty by crises like the death of a wage earner, natural disaster, divorce, or medical emergencies. Families in crisis may choose to forgo food in order to pay other bills since food is often one of the few flexible expenses they have.